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English is not my native language, but normally when I listen to the radio I have no problem understanding what's being said.

That's different when I listen to sports commentary, I really have to concentrate then. I just watched an episode of The IT Crowd where Maurice Moss talks in a "football voice"(1:10).

Where does that way of speaking originate? Why do you usually hear it in sports commentary?

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+1 for the link. Funny show. – Robusto Jan 23 '11 at 11:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Elendil has covered the idiomatic aspects of "football voice", but the pronunciation characteristics are somewhat different. I'm not from the UK, but my understanding runs as follows: both Moss and Jenn speak with a typical educated Londoner accent, which falls somewhere between the lower-class dialects and the upper-class RP ("Received Pronunciation"). This is the closest thing there is to a neutral accent in Britain. However, when Moss switches into "football voice" talking to the (presumably working-class) postman, he affects a style of pronunciation that's more associated with lower-class Londoners, which is how the stereotypical football fan speaks. The football voice is thus a combination of football-specific idioms and a particular dialectical pronunciation.

British sportscasters are probably not as working-class as their listeners, so I suspect that if you hear sportscasters talking in this way, it's partly an affectation.

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Yes, in this case Moss puts on a mild Cockney accent. While the 'main' commentator will probably have a fairly neutral accent, often the 'second' or 'colour' commentator will be an ex-footballer who hasn't trained his accent and will probably have a strong regional one. – user3444 Jan 24 '11 at 8:58

It's more the kind of speech you hear between two guys discussing a match the next day rather than during commentary, though the 'second commentator' will often chime in with similar stuff.

What characterises the 'football voice' is generally the use of lots of cliches and slang that could be obscure for non-natives (or even native non-football fans), like 'They were trying to walk it in', i.e. they were keeping the ball too long and not shooting soon enough.

Perhaps if you can be more specific about what you find hard to understand we could help a little more.

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I guess what is causing me trouble is the mix of slang, cheering, rapid shouting and voice tone. I'm mostly wondering why (e.g. in the video) they don't just. but alter it. – user1951 Jan 23 '11 at 12:01
"I'm mostly wondering why (e.g. in the video) they don't just. but alter it." Not quite sure what you mean... – user3444 Jan 23 '11 at 12:04

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